Recent Posts

July 16, 2014

Just as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 traumatized many people in the United States, Peru’s war on terror in the 1980s and 1990s continues to traumatize Peruvians. And just as in the United States, the final chapter of the war has yet to be written. In 1980, members of the Communist Party of Peru, more commonly known as the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), began a guerilla war to overthrow the government, elevate the rural poor and establish a communist state modeled on the philosophy of Mao Zedung (Mao Tse-tung), the founder of the People’s Republic of China. Besides…

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July 15, 2014

Should Peru’s government continue its ban on genetically modified organisms? Should it limit the development of squatter communities? Should Peru continue to pay motorists to retire older vehicles from Lima’s streets? Is tourism a great thing for Peru? And are Peruvians and North Americans basically the same at heart? These provocative questions were discussed and debated by Goshen College students during a recent afternoon at Casa Goshen. SST Co-Directors Judy Weaver and Richard R. Aguirre developed the idea of having the students explore these issues in an academic exercise inspired by the radio program “Intelligence Squared U.S.,” Oxford-style debates heard…

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July 14, 2014

One of the leading Peruvian literary figures we learned about was Ricardo Palma, whose own life was as fascinating as his stories. We got a sense of the author as a man and Peruvian by visiting his home – now a museum – in the Miraflores district of Lima. Palma lived from 1833 to 1919, a period of great change in Peru. In addition to a rich life of reading and writing from an early age to the end of his days, Palma was a naval officer, a survivor of a shipwreck, a friend to presidents and a political activist…

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July 13, 2014

Mention the “War of the Pacific” in the United States and most people will think about the epic World War II battles that pitted Japan and the United States and allied powers. Mention “War of the Pacific” in South America and most people will recall the 19th century war between Chile, Peru and Bolivia whose outcome continues to spur resentment among citizens of the three nations. Goshen College students recently got the opportunity to learn more about that war through a complex war strategy game designed to entertain, educate and foster peace and understanding among the people of Peru, Chile and…

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July 12, 2014

What makes Machu Picchu so remarkable? It was not known to the Spaniards who invaded and took over the Inca Empire in the 16th century. No major events or battles happened there. It remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when local families led a North American explorer to the 500-year-old walls, covered in jungle vegetation. The explorer, Hiram Bingham, returned with a National Geographic team to excavate and photograph it, and soon the whole world was enthralled by this breath-taking mountain village. Because of Machu Picchu, the rest of the world began to know something about the beautiful…

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July 11, 2014

After Cusco, we made our way through the Valle Sagrada, or Sacred Valley of the Incas, so called because it contained stunning lands and properties that belonged to the emperor himself.  We started the day in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, visiting the central plaza – one of the most beautiful in South America – and a market. Then our bus took us on to some of those famous Inca sites. We visited Chinchero, where the great Inca sat on a throne of stone to observe religious festivities in a wide, artificially-flattened parade ground below.  A colonial-era church now…

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July 8, 2014

On our second day in the Cusco area, students woke up in the quiet of mountain hamlets. In the morning we hiked the trails of a beautiful Inca site called Tipon, where water from an underground spring was channeled with such precision that it still runs and never changes in volume, even during times of drought or flood. Lunch was oven-roasted cuy (guinea pig), a Peru SST rite of passage. Guinea pigs were raised in every Inca household and remain a treat to the Andean people. After lunch we went to another Inca ruin, Pikillaqta, with shaman Basilio Samata. He…

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July 6, 2014

Exploring the Inca legacy

On our first day in Cusco, we explored some of the many Inca sites in the area. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire when Peru was invaded by a small band of Spaniards in 1526. The Incas ruled an empire that extended thousands of miles, encompassing parts of modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Cusco – or its proper Quechua name of Q’osqo – means navel. The city was the center of the world to the Andean peoples. The Incas ruled more than 10 million inhabitants from 1438 to 1533. The Spaniards were able to bring…

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July 3, 2014

Cusco classes

We broke up our time in Lima with a week-long trip to the Cusco area, including a journey through Peru’s Sacred Valley to visit historical sites from the time of the Incas and finishing with a day at the incomparable Machu Picchu. First we spent two days in the beautiful city of Cusco, ancient capital of the Inca Empire. We mixed visits to important sites in Cusco with a lecture on the Incas and a workshop on Andean music. This post shares our arrival and speakers.

June 26, 2014

Clases de español

During the students’ six weeks in Lima, Spanish classes meet every afternoon at the Buen Pastor church. Our creative teachers, Moises, Ana and Gretty found multiple ways to engage students and have them practice their Spanish, including reading short texts, discussing topics related to their majors, writing short skits, interviewing Peruvians and a fun afternoon of cooking to practice the imperative (commands such as, “add the sugar and stir.”) Students said the classes helped them with conversational Spanish, clarified their daily questions, taught them new vocabulary and were fun.

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